We all have our tried-and-true drinks that we turn to, but sometimes you just want a little something different in your glass. A desire for something different is what drives fickle fashions and leads to the next big thing being described as "the new black." Well, we recently discovered the literal drinking equivalent: a port wine, Noval BLACK, that makes a surprisingly good base for cocktails.
Although brandy is added during port's fermentation process, this Portuguese fortified wine, also known as Vinho do Porto or Porto, is not a standard cocktail bar fixture. It's usually enjoyed as a dessert wine, as it pairs well with chocolate and cheese. But port's smooth sweetness can be nicely tempered in cocktails with a splash of citrus, while it enhances fruit flavors, adds complexity and rounds out spirits with a richness.
This is one drop that can go the distance. Broadly speaking, port can be classified as either barrel-aged or bottle-aged. For Noval BLACK, traditional Douro grape varieties, including Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca and Tinto Cao, are aged for two years in wood before bottling. At the other end of the spectrum, one of our writers at our sister site Snooth was lucky enough to taste a piece of port history: Taylor Fladgate's Scion, a pre-phylloxera wine from 1855, the year that the Bordeaux wine Châteaus were first classified.
While we won't be getting our hands on that beauty (only 1,400 bottles were produced at $3,200 each), we can enjoy the next generation of port. Jim Meehan, a founder of PDT -- the New York City speakeasy with a famously quirky entrance -- was inspired by Noval BLACK's complexity and balance, which lend it perfectly to blending, to create these three cocktails.
The idea for the BLACK Cup sprang from the Pimm’s Cup, and makes for a refreshing drink emphasizing citrus, fresh fruit, and a lovely, complex herbal component.
2 oz Noval BLACK
½ oz Lemon Juice
½ oz Simple Syrup
Muddle the strawberry with the simple syrup, then add the rest of the ingredients. Shake with ice and strain into a Collins glass filled with ice. Top with 2 oz Club Soda and garnish with a cucumber wheel and a strawberry.
BLACK ‘n’ Stormy
Noval BLACK mellows out the rum in this timeless cocktail, making it richer and smoother, adding more complexity and spice, and lending a sense of pitch-perfect balance.
1 oz Noval BLACK
1 oz Goslings Black Seal Rum
1 oz House Ginger Beer
½ oz Lime Juice
½ oz Simple Syrup
Shake with ice and garnish with a lime wheel skewered to a piece of candied ginger and a blackberry. Serve in a Collins or Old fashioned glass.
The Betsy Ross is a specific type of Sangaree (Sangria), and BLACK blends perfectly with the luxurious Cognac and Champagne. For the most sophisticated drinkers.
1½ oz Noval BLACK
¾ oz Cognac
½ oz Grand Marnier
2 Dashes of Orange Bitters
Stir with ice and strain into a chilled coupe. Top with 1½ oz Bruno Paillard Champagne. Garnish with an orange twist.
Recipes by Jim Meehan